Sport: Russians and Belarusians excluded from most international competitions

► Football: still no Russian clubs and national teams next year

On the eve of the start of the 2022-2023 season, UEFA announced the banning of Russian teams from its competitions. Thus, there are no more Russian and Belarusian clubs in the Champions League or the Europa League. This sanction regime will continue next season.

Despite qualifying, Russian footballers were also not allowed to play in the World Cup in Qatar. The women’s team had been replaced by Portugal to compete in the Euro football championship in July 2022.

► Basketball: French players also impacted by sanctions

The European section of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also decided on March 2 to oust Russian and Belarusian clubs and national teams from the various national and international competitions.

Additional measure, this time for French basketball players: the French federation prohibits the selection in the national team of players playing in the Russian championship, one of the best on the continent, or Belarusian. This is the case of Thomas Heurtel: the leader bade farewell to the Blues after having led them to the final of Euro 2022, before signing at Zenith Saint-Petersburg.

Recently, the federations of the countries of northern Europe have called for maintaining this system of sanctions with regard to Russian teams, advocating “zero tolerance (…) whether as an athlete or as a referee or official”.

► Paralympic Games: athletes finally excluded

While Russia invaded its Ukrainian neighbor after the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, the committee for the Paralympic Games, which are held a few days after the Olympics, decided to exclude Russian athletes, even under the banner neutral.

► Athletics: a dual sanction regime

Following the revelation of several doping cases in 2015, Russia is excluded by the World athletics council from international athletics competitions, until March 2023. If the athletes could present themselves under a neutral banner, they are now sidelined from competitions until further notice by the International Athletics Federation. A rehabilitation of Russia will not change the fate of athletes.

► Handball: no participation in the World Cup and the Euro

The World Cup currently being played in Sweden and Poland does not have a Russian national team: the International Handball Federation (IHF) has decided to follow the recommendations of the National Olympic Committee. The Russian handball players were also unable to compete in the European championships last December.

During the previous edition of the world in January 2021, the International Federation had already issued certain conditions for the participation of the Russian selection in the competition: no Russian flag, use of names “neutral athletes” and “Russian Handball Federation team”. This decision followed doping cases.

Spearhead of women’s handball, the Rostov club was also excluded from the Champions League last season. Same fate for CSKA Moscow and the Belarusian club Meskhov Brest, for men. These three teams have not returned to European courts this season.

► In all, a hundred federations prohibit the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes

Among the sports where Russia is the most successful, figure skating or volleyball, have not allowed its athletes to participate in the various competitions either. In cycling, the team financed by the gas giant Gazprom had to end its season after being ousted by the International Cycling Union (UCI) from the various tours around the world.


Sports where they are still accepted:

► Motorsport: drivers but no Russian GP

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) allows Russian and Belarusian drivers to drive, provided they race under the flag of the organization and not of their country.

F1, however, canceled the Russian Grand Prix, a stage of the championship which has taken place every year in Sochi since 2014. While the contract ran until 2025, its boss, Stefano Domenicali, announced in August that this race would not would no longer take place. “I dare say that we will never negotiate with them again. There will be no more Formula 1 racing in Russia”he said.

► Tennis: Wimbledon, the only major tournament to exclude the Russians

The exclusion of Russian and Belarusian players from the Wimbledon grand slam tournament last April created controversy within the professional circuit. The Association of Professional Players (ATP) had strongly condemned this decision of the prestigious British tournament while the tennis players and tenniswomen of the two countries are playing for the first places in the world.

Since then, Russians and Belarusians have returned to the courts, under a neutral banner, notably in the three other Grand Slams, at Roland-Garros or at the US Open. Currently, Russian Karen Khachanov, for men and Belarusians Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka for women are still in the running to win the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.


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